The New Saints comfortably cruised to victory against Gap Connah’s Quay after winning by five goals to one at the Deeside Stadium.
Adrian Cieslewicz’s excellent strike gave Craig Harrison’s side the lead after half an hour and Alex Darlington doubled the advantage five minutes into the second half. Greg Draper added a third with twenty minutes to go but Jack Rowlands pulled a goal back for the home side with only fifteen minutes left. Draper then completed his brace in the 81st minute and substitute Chris Seargeant scored the goal of the game with near enough the last kick to secure the points for the Welsh Premier League Champions.
In what was a lively start, Luke Holden broke forward inside the first couple of minutes but after composing himself on the edge of the box, the winger smashed the ball over the bar.
With Terry McCormick off his line, Sam Finley attempted an audacious lob from 40 yards out after only eight minutes which went just over the bar.
Finley was once again in the thick of the action moments later. His wonderful cross was met by Ryan Fraughan but the former Tranmere Rovers winger was only able to head it wide of the post.
Within seconds the home side broke forward and should have broken the deadlock but luckily for TNS, Jamie Rainford’s header was straight at Paul Harrison who coolly caught the ball.
Just before the half hour break, Cieslewicz broke the deadlock. The Polish winger cut in from the right hand side and fired an unstoppable strike into the top corner to give his side the lead.
The opening goal inspired The Saints and soon after both Fraughan and Draper tested the Connah’s Quay goalkeeper with close range efforts.
However, with ten minutes left to play in the first half, George Horan nearly equalised from a corner but the defender headed the ball inches wide.
The Saints had the final chance of what was an entertaining first half when Draper controlled the ball in the box, before firing just over from a tight angle.
The second half began in a similar manner with both sides pushing forward and Draper nearly doubled the lead inside two minutes. Finley’s magnificent pass was met by the striker who pushed it towards goal and forced an excellent strop from McCormick.
The Saints scored again in the 51st minute thanks to Darlington. The former Wrexham man was picked out by Fraughan and the TNS number 20 calmly rolled the ball under the Connah’s Quay goalkeeper.
With an hour played, Chris Marriott and Fraughan linked up and it was Fraughan who nearly added a third goal. The winger fired a powerful shot just wide with the Nomads’ goalkeeper beaten.
Mark McGregor’s side looked for a way back into the game and in doing so left themselves open with only twenty minutes left. Draper capitilised on the space and after susbstitute Scott Quigley’s excellent ball had found the striker, the TNS number nine confidently slotted in from eight yards out to give TNS a three goal lead.
With only fifteen minutes left to play, the home side pulled a goal back. Jack Rowlands managed to bundle in a corner that TNS had failed to clear to give the home side some hope.
However, the fight back didn’t last long as Draper grabbed his second goal of the game after Simon Spender’s wonderful cross had found the striker in the box.
With the game coming to a close, Finley picked up the ball inside his own half and dribbled upto the box before unleashing a brilliant effort that flew just wide of the post.
In stoppage time, TNS nearly made it five. Former Connah’s Quay man, Ryan Edwards played Draper in but this time the prolific forward was thwarted by the home ‘keeper.
With near enough the last kick of the game, substitute Seargeant scored the goal of the game. The fomer Everton man rifled in an incredible strike from the edge of the box into the top corner to secure a five one victory for The Saints.
Full time: Gap Connah’s Quay 1-5 TNS.